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Ever wondered what shouldn’t be stored in your cargo shipping container? It’s a valid question! Storage containers are perfect for storing all kinds of goods; they’re robust, and offer ample space. But not everything can or should be stored inside these steel giants.  


Explosives, weapons, and radioactive materials are a few things to avoid, as they are highly dangerous items. But what else shouldn’t you be storing? 


Our team at A American Container shares our insights!  

Container safety graphic, what not to store in a container

Shipping Container Safety: What Not to Store 


Regardless of how dependable, roomy, or secure they may seem, steel shipping containers are not a one-size-fits-all storage solution. Certain items pose risks due to their sensitive, hazardous, or illegal nature.  


Some of the items you should avoid storing include:  


  • Explosives 
  • Weapons 
  • Toxic materials 
  • Electronics & Batteries  
  • Perishable Items 


In the following sections, we will explore why these items are specifically unsuitable for storage in shipping containers, as well as the potential dangers and ramifications of ignoring these guidelines. 


#1. Explosives  


Despite being made from sturdy CORTEN steel, storing explosives presents a major hazard. Explosives are highly reactive substances that can release large amounts of energy under certain conditions. Storing these in an enclosed space intensifies the risks as they can result in a large amount of damage if an accidental detonation occurs.  


  • Accidental Detonation: Even minor shocks can trigger an explosion. Small changes in temperature or pressure inside the container could potentially instigate a reaction, thereby causing an accidental and significant blast. 


  • No Emergency Exits: In the event of an accident, being trapped in a steel shipping container with explosives is a scenario no one wants to find themselves in. The lack of escape routes significantly increases the risk factor. 


Remember, it’s not worth tempting fate by placing such volatile substances in your steel container. Having explosives in such proximity to people or property is a gamble you don’t want to take. 


#2. Weapons  


Storing weapons in your container simply isn’t a safe or smart idea. There’s a level of risk associated with weapon storage that makes them fundamentally unsuitable for containerization.  


If your storage container is not insulated or climate-controlled, weapons, particularly firearms, can rust and corrode due to the increased humidity.  


Also, unauthorized or illegal storage of weapons can lead to serious law enforcement repercussions, including hefty fines or even prison time. That’s why it’s best to consider safe and legal options when it comes to storing weapons.  


#3. Toxic Materials 


Storage of toxic materials is not advised as it can result in severe health hazards, environmental damage, and even legal consequences.  


Steer clear of these materials when using a cargo container as a storage solution:  


  • Hazardous Chemicals: These include pesticides, poisons, strong acids, and other industrial chemicals. They can lead to serious health issues or environmental contamination if leaked. 


  • Asbestos: While now banned in many countries, some older items might contain this cancer-causing material, which produces fine dust that can be inhaled easily if not properly contained. 


  • Biological Waste: This category includes medical waste and other biohazardous materials. Inappropriate storage or disposal of these substances can cause a serious health hazard. 


  • Radioactive Material: Materials such as radioactive isotopes can release deadly radiation if not stored properly. 


When in doubt about any material’s safety, it’s best to contact a professional or your local waste management authority.  


#4. Electronics & Batteries  


The primary reason why you shouldn’t store electronics or batteries in a steel storage container is the potential for damage from temperature fluctuations and condensation. Both can have severe and irreversible impacts on electronic items and batteries.  


  • Temperature fluctuations: The steel structure of shipping containers makes them ill-suited to maintain a stable temperature inside. During a hot day, they can transform into ovens, and inversely, they may freeze during colder seasons. Such extreme temperature swings are detrimental to both electronics and batteries, shortening their lifespan considerably or outright damaging them.  


  • Condensation: Combined with temperature fluctuations, condensation can form in containers, leading to moisture build-up. Electronic items and batteries don’t mix well with moisture. It can lead to corrosion, short circuits, and a host of other issues that can irreparably damage your items.  


While these risks exist, appropriately modified cargo containers can mitigate them. If a container is insulated and equipped with an adequate climate control system, it can regulate temperature fluctuations and minimize condensation issues.  


#5. Perishable Items 


Perishable items can quickly decay, leading to unpleasant odors, bacteria growth, and damage to your valuable container if stored without proper refrigeration or climate control. 


It may seem like a no-brainer, but some common examples of what items not to store include: 


  • Fruits and Vegetables: These items need to be stored at specific temperatures to delay rotting. 


  • Frozen Goods: As the container might not maintain the freezing conditions, frozen goods are a no-go. (Unless you have a refrigerated container) 


  • Dairy Products: Dairy products can quickly spoil if not kept at cold temperatures. 


  • Raw or Cooked Meat: Without proper temperature, meats can develop harmful bacteria. 


If you must store perishable items, consider using a refrigerated shipping container.  


Read More > Creative Ways to Transform a Shipping Container  


stack of shipping containers in various colors at A American Container lot


A American Container – Your Reliable Source for On-Site Storage   


Safety, care, and common sense should dictate what you decide to store inside your container. While steel cargo containers are incredibly versatile, not every item belongs inside them. Remember, they are not suitable for explosives, weapons, toxic materials, certain electronics, perishable items, or any living creature.  


Let us help you ensure that your items will be stored safely and efficiently. Our friendly team at A American Container can assist you in determining the best and safest way to store your possessions.  


Store with confidence! Contact A American Container at 813-640-1911 or 813-945-9521 for a quote today!  


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